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Turning Talent Into Organisational Assets
Dhananjay Nair (General Manager – HR, Ford India) says organisations need to adopt world-class processes that enable remote supervision and management of people
Issue Date - 01/07/2012
Q. What factors have redefined the workplace?
A. Virtual teams are quite common in today’s workplace, and usually come along with challenges like remote supervision and cross-cultural differences and working across time zones.

Workplaces have evolved over the years and will keep on evolving. Technological developments have enabled employees to maintain a perfect work-life balance. With gadgets and PDA phones used today that connect you to the workplace, it becomes tempting to work from home and after office hours. Organisations are adopting world-class processes and technology to retain local and cultural environment and thrive in the globalisation that is happening. The industry is preparing itself to have the talent and leadership pipeline ready for future.

Q. Going forward, how will the compensation and benefits structure look like?
A. Flexibility on variable components empowers an employee and we need to focus on how it will transform with time. Today we have a common insurance scheme, tomorrow we might have it on co-pay basis, where the employee also pays his share and can define the level of insurance he or she wants. Such concepts are becoming popular and demography is one factor that defines it.

Q. You have worked across sectors. What are the current trends and challenges?
A. When the businesses stride across different industry segments such as manufacturing, core IT and ITeS, the challenge is to compete for talent in these industry segments. At ford, we ensure that employee value proposition (EVP) is common for all the employees and there is an opportunity of offering a wide career option.

Q. What processes do you think might change with time and which are the ones that would remain the same but evolve?
A. From the point of view of people processes, personal growth aspirations, relation between employee and his supervisor, the corporate reputation, the employer brand promise and others will remain same over the years. What will probably evolve is how employees develop.

At Ford, we believe that 70 per cent of the development happens through experience on the job, 20 per cent through mentoring and 10 per cent through classroom training.

So, those could change depending upon the part of function we are in and our role. Similarly, the war for talent will not change; however, the way you bring value to the existing and potential employees could change depending upon which part of the business and time you are in. Attracting people through competitive pay, benefits and structure will also have to change. However, basic things such as why a person joins and stays in a company will not change.

Q. What are the top technologies that are impacting the way we work today?
A. There is increase in mobility, with people being provided gadgets, web-based and enterprise solutions they are getting more mobile and productive. Organisations are enhancing productivity by diverting the talent from streams that can be outsourced. HR is one function doing that in a big way. It focuses on making people more valuable asset for the organisation by taking away the non-value-added work and outsourcing it.

In HR, there is enablement happening across nations to get world-class HR technology. As we are a global organisation, the key to this will be making sure that the technology and systems followed are uniform across locations.

Q. How will the workplace dynamics look like in future?
A. The competition will be more intense, as the industry is moving towards future. Certain jobs will enable plug-and-play offices, but there will be some areas like manufacturing units and related roles that will require physical presence.

Even in case of virtual office, it is never going to be 100 per cent virtual for people will have to get together and meet. Being in touch is not limited by physically being in touch. There will be ways by which you can connect and ensure that your employee gets the updates and can share his/her concerns.

As often bosses do not sit next to employees, location does not matter when it comes to output. People are still visually and physically disconnected with their bosses. We must find ways and means to strengthen the relationship with the supervisor even though it is remote and alternatively.

Q. How different will be the organisational challenges?
A. The future will be more challenging than today. As the employee demographic and workplace change, staying connected to employee’s aspirations and responding with effective HR solution will be a challenge. Developing the leadership and talent pipeline is still a big challenge for HR, apart from helping employees to work in a globally connected environment.

We need to assimilate more talent as we move towards future. Ford has a big stake at the table and the operations expect HR to deliver much more than what it is doing at present.

Q. What will be the HR’s expectation from CEO?
A. The HR’s prime expectation from the CEO will be to champion both the HR and the people processes. CEO is expected to be the key HR officer – key coach, top hirer and trainer. He is also the chief person who can have the biggest impact on people engagement.

We have people development committees (PDCs) across all levels. Managers and supervisors are involved in the career and succession planning of their subordinates. The managing director is also a part of a PDC who is responsible for the development of all vice-presidents.

The key expectations of CEOs will not be much different in future. They will be looking at HR as the people representative, the one who understands the business and looks at people implications of every decision the management takes in a particular business.

Q. How do you plan to prepare for the global competition?
We believe that the value proposition of an organisation needs to be enduring and should appeal to the employees across demographic groups. We promise the corporate reputation, growth opportunities, competitive pay and work-life balance to our employees. We have done well in recent past on attracting talent by keeping out attrition rate less than half of industry’s attrition rates.
Shishir Parasher           

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